The always eloquent Mark Hurst had a great piece recently on the importance and value of listening entitled Listening is Hard. Two things in particular stuck out for me as an important to finding a job in IA:
You can’t create something better for someone unless you understand what it is they need.
As UX practitioners we’re often responsible for creating things that are better, more usable, better organized, easier to engage with, that sell more stuff or help reduce costs. Listening is a critical skill to learn.
Take a methods like interviewing and facilitation — these require open ears, active listening, attentive to the inputs being provided. Without effective listening, you’ll likely miss a chance to truly understand the needs being communicated through the words of others.
Consider also usability testing as examples where listening is an important part of the process of facilitating a test. Hearing responses from test participants and understanding what is/isn’t working for them requires attentive listening.
Finding out what they need – often by listening to them – is hard.
Talk to anyone who has sat through days of back-to-back stakeholder and user interviews or conducted numerous card sorts or usability tests — they’ll tell you it is hard. You have to practice.
So how do you be an effective listener?